Category Archives: Only child

Only Child pays tribute to Dad for Father’s Day

My Dad

When I was growing up, dinnertime for Mom, Dad and me was sitting around the table in our small kitchen. Mom and Dad would sometimes be talking about the household budget while little ears lapped it up as well as the food – often leftover roast. But Dad had one habit that drove Mom crazy.

He looked at his watch, then up at the wall clock above the table, then back to his watch, lifting up the expansion band. I expected it to go “boing, boing,” but it was silent.

Not  Mom.

“Albert, do you have to keep doing that?” she would ask.

“Have to take it in to get regulated,” Dad replied. He had good reason for this.

You see, my late father worked for the railway, CN (or CNR as it was called back in the 50s and 60s). He was a timekeeper but he worked in the head office, then in downtown Toronto. As far as I know he wasn’t out on the tracks timing the trains. But who knows. The trains came in right by his office at Toronto’s Union Station.

Only Child loves train travel although engines aren’t steam anymore

He carried this penchant for time when the three of us rode the rails travelling in the summer. It was a free ride, and not just for Dad. Mother had the spouse’s free pass and until I turned 19 I had the child of the CN worker’s pass. Mom got unlimited free rides; I was limited to seven a year. But we never took more than three or four trips a year – and one would be not really a holiday. There were a lot of funerals in my family and a few weddings.

But that’s for another post. Today’s post is all about Dad and time. When we rode the rails, Dad made sure we arrived at Union Station early – sometimes two hours before train time. Did Dad think we would miss the train?  No. He was just doing his job outside his job. No one missed his scrutiny – from the cab driver who drove us to Union Station – via a different route than Dad had dictated to who carried our luggage (not the red cap porter) to the trainman who collected our tickets once we had boarded the train. Dad’s favourite expression was “Typical CNR” which could be taken as either a bad review or I suppose even a small compliment. At any rate Dad and his watch kept close company.

But riding the rails had its fun, interesting and now looking back – nostalgic times. Nothing like the murder and other crimes that occur on the train to Hanover in my short story “Porcelain Doll” (Beyond theTripping Point, Blue Denim Press, 2012).

Consider the times we were travelling in – mid to late 1950s and early 1960s. Right when train travel in Ontario was still in its heyday – although not for much longer with the almighty automobile starting to take over. (Note: my parents didn’t drive so we had no car).

Our main annual trip was to visit the farm relatives on my mother’s side of the family. That took us to Mildmay Ontario (a few miles from Walkerton, the town that had the bad water scandal in 2000), and Lucknow, Ontario. Then we had to take three trains, which meant two changes. But what rides and what differences. The trains from Toronto to Guelph had diesel engines. The one from Guelph to Palmerston still had a steam engine whose noise used to scare me and my constant travelling companion, my doll Darlene. Guelph was also an interesting ride through. As that second train started out from Guelph, looking out the windows you could see the train was running on a track right in the middle of a street. It is still that setup today (although the trains are more modern) and it still makes me hold my breath when travelling through. The third train, with its short ride from Palmeston to Mildmay, was the most interesting. The “coach” we rode in was actually a sleeper car and Daddy would go into a short talk on the closed dark wooden bins above which came down and turned the area into a bedroom. I also remember the texture of the seats – they itched the back of my bare legs.

Only Child at 13 with Mom and Dad at the Lucknow farm

Dad has been long gone (he died of brain cancer, at 66. I was 16). However, I have inherited his penchant for time. I must get what is on my daily to-do list done that day and God help anyone or anything who interferes (Telemareters and long-winded acquaintances on the phone pay attention). But I also go after transit that is not on time, but not the CN, or VIA rail which has taken over the railway passenger service in most of Canada. No, it’s the city public transit, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) which more times than naught, messes up on its schedules. So I sometimes complain online about the incident. Couldn’t do that back in the day.

Guess I do have my father to thank for to be aware of time. And in line with that, on this upcoming Father’s Day I will honour my late father by thinking of him and toasting him – not with his favourite drink – beer, which I don’t really like – but wine. It’s the thought that counts. I’m sure Daddy would understand.Happy Father’s Day Daddy (wherever your spirit is), from your little railway brat.

How are you honouring your Dad this Father’s Day?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

C

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Dad, Father's Day, Only child, Time management, Train travel

Only Child says anger not always bad

Only Child behind barbed wire

When I was a child I hid my anger under shyness and the belief that you don’t show your anger because others might retaliate and hurt you. Let’s face it I was a wimp when growing up. Perhaps it was due to my  personal background or just the mores of the times (1950s and 1960s). More likely both.

Nowadays as a senior, I am not afraid to show my anger.

Let me clarify that. It is only verbal and written. I do not condone physical violence and I don’t condone verbal and written anger  that is sexist and racist. There is never any excuse or reason for that.

But on a personal level I will tell someone off if they are blocking the subway doorway and I and others can’t get off or (and my big pet peeve), they are standing on the steps down to the subway platform and playing with their digital device. I also tell bus drivers off if they are really late arriving (although for this I am more likely to just not say “thank you” as I exit the bus). My usual exit is to thank bus drivers as I leave the bus. In the majority of cases bus drivers are just doing their job and some go out of their way to help passengers.

Not so the “clown” driving the Woodbine bus I took last evening. Not only was he late (the next bus was almost on his tail), but he sped away from the stop as soon as I used my Presto card to pay. As I struggled and lurched to get seated, I yelled, “It  might be a good idea to let us sit down first.” Fortunately I landed in a seat without injury. And why was this bus driver in such a rush? He just had to make the green light half a block away down the street. He missed it and had to wait. Thank God or somebody for Karma.

On a wider scale I am also angered by government cuts in funds to libraries, education and healthcare, something we in Ontario are now experiencing that the populist you-know-what Doug Ford and his Conservative cronies who rule the roost are doing. I am also angered by the lax sentences for murderers and other perpetrators of heinous crimes under the Criminal Code in Canada and I covered that in a recent post. And if you harm a child, harm someone who is disabled, you get my wrath too.

Anger, I find can be redirected into action with the forming of community groups and the like to make changes, for example public transit riders groups (I know; I seem to be on this public transit kick). Even just writing this post is a good redirection or writing a short story.

I am not alone in being angry some of the time. See Facebook and Twitter and news clips. t seems to be a sign of the times and the number of people being angry over specific things is increasing according to a Gallop Poll from last year which went through 142 countries. See here for the poll info which also covers worry – and that does go hand in hand with anger. The age bracket for most angry was not us seniors, but it went up to age 49.

So what about us seniors?

That’s fodder for another post.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Anger, Life demands, Only child

Only Child says Spring is springing

Only Child’s spring garden 2018

Today, spring officially arrives. Exact time depends on where you live in the northern hemisphere. Here, in Toronto it is today at 5.58 p.m. and I plan to celebrate – not with a drink, but with buying a plant, a pansy, providing the garden centres (read Home Depot here) have some in. I want to put the plant front and centre on the small red table on my front veranda. Pansies can survive temperatures down to 26 F and it it gets too cold temporarily, I can bring the plant inside for a bit.

Back when I was a child (in the grey ages of course, i.e., mid-1950s), my mom and dad were already out in the garden digging and doing other prep work to plant vegetables – well in early April, not March. But April is coming soon. I was not far behind, waiting to get into the garden and learning what to do from my mom. Guess that’s where I got my gardening bug.

But I am doing some gardening preparations. Finally got my seed order into the seed company – as usual in mid-March. But all those problems (which still keep coming) stole and steal my time from what I want to do and need to do. Often those coincide but when the latter means fixing big problems, I resent that.

So, I hope the sun, spring and warmer weather will kill all the problems and maybe “burn” the perpetrators a little. And “burn” can be taken in other ways than fire. I don’t wish the latter on anybody.

Enjoy the spring. Meantime, here are a few photos from my gardens past to enjoy.

Four-year-old Only Child ready to garden in April

 

Only Child in her backyard patio

 

Backyard Garden 2018

 

Tulips in bloom spring 2018 backyard garden

Happy Spring.

Sharon

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Filed under 1950s, Gardens, Mom and Dad, Only child, Spring

New Year New Outlook

Teddy reminding me to slow down

I am one of many who is glad that 2018 is past, deceased, down the drain. It was a very bad year for everybody and for our planet. On my Facebook page, my New Year’s message for all is:

Happy New Year to all my family and friends. May 2019 be your best year yet and the best year yet for our world, especially earth. May we all learn how to slow down before we burn out.

That is what I base my intentions, goals, etc. on. I don’t do resolutions. Instead I do a few lists under headings such as “Want to do/have to do”, “Don’t want to do/have to do”, “Want to do/don’t have to do” and my favourite “Don’t want to do/don’t have to do”. The latter is a bit longer than other years – the first has the longest list, which is good –  it is always better if what you have to do is also what you want to do. What is on my list is for the whole year and I don’t intend to do all at once. But it helps me realize what I have not been doing and what I have been doing too much of. And the focus is on CHANGE.

And no, I’m not going to list the whole she-bang. Just a few highlights.

I have not been able time-wise to do as much reading as I like and enjoy – so that is on the want/have to do list. So is something that has been eating away at my psyche and my health for a few years.

Those of you who follow this blog have probably read my occasional posts where I complain about water getting into my basement sometimes with heavy rainfalls and why it happens. In 2018 a friend offered to pay to get the waterproofing done and so I interviewed five prospective contractors who specialize in waterproofing the basement. But there are two black walnut trees near the house and on my neighbour’s property – trees neither of us planted – the pesky squirrels did it. As digging is required for outside waterproofing and I was concerned about tree roots, I decided I better get in an arborist to look at the tree situation. I kept my next door neighbour up to date on everything.

The arborist came and said the trees had to come down. He was going to charge a  ridiculous fee, plus there is a permit to get, etc. etc. – so  more fees BEFORE the waterproofing could be done. No way did I want my friend paying for trees to come down – she had offered to pay for the waterproofing and I was grateful for that. Anyway, for other reasons, both my next door neighbour and I do not want the trees to come down (shade, etc.) – they have been trimmed in the past by another arborist (who didn’t return my calls to do an assessment).

These trees weren’t big enough to be in the way when the original contractor, one Nigel Applewaite, did the job and did it wrong. He didn’t dig down to the weeping tiles like you are supposed to. I distinctly remember him telling me then that he was digging down four feet (weeping tiles are 5 to 6 feet down at least). Of course, then I didn’t know any better.

The first two years no water got in and then it did – obviously from below where he stopped digging. After he told me to get the drains checked (I did – city workers said they were clear), he ran the hose against the wall in one area to see if any water got in (not from that spot)  and that was it. Never heard from him again.

So I’ve been letting people know not to hire him because of what he didn’t do – including my insurance agent’s manager when her basement flooded for the same reason. “Don’t hire Nigel Applewaite” became my mantra for all.

Well, I’m still suffering thanks to him. So, this year I’m going after him – all legal. I have some options up my sleeve for this.

The rest of my intentions for 2019 are not nasty unless you count dropping so-called friends who betrayed me in 2018. But from that and other experiences I have learned to treasure my true friends and to try to spend more time with them. To that end I am cutting back or deleting some of the unnecessary time-wasters from 2018. Or just saying “NO” to what other people think I should do.

 

I will still be writing (more than in 2018 I hope), doing book promo for my Beyond mystery books, editing clients’ manuscripts and teaching writing workshops. All that will be  covered on my author blog here. But I probably won’t get to this week’s post until tomorrow (Jan. 4, 2019). But posting weekly to both my blogs (as I used to before forces outside me took over it seems), is one of my 2019 intentions

So, happy, prosperous, joyful, productive, peaceful, etc. 2019 to all.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Basement Flooding, Family and Friends, Life demands, New year's resolutions, Only child

Only Child says don’t order me around

My Mom and Dad

When I was a child my mom and dad told me what to do. And so they should – that was part of their job being parents. Fast forward too many years to now and people are still telling me what to do – or trying to. I’m a senior and should be able to make up  my own mind, including weighing in on pros and cons of different situation.

That doesn’t mean I don’t ask for help, for suggestions from friends and family – the big word here is “ask”. It is the unsolicited advice – sometimes almost like orders I’m talking about.

That also doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to experts talk/suggest in well, their area of expertise. For example, with my handyman, Mike, if I call him in with yet another house repair problem. Sure, we can get into a discussion. But I listen to what he says and will probably have him do what he suggests – as long as I can afford it. Sometimes, the work just gets postponed until I can afford it – like the old rec room window that last month just started letting water ub during heavy rainfalls. That’s a closed window, folks.

And for medical/health advice, I listen to the experts and read expert info – although in the end,  a lot of that is up to me. But I don’t pretend to know everything. As a former journalist I am very familiar with the word “research” and do lots of that.

It’s when people who think they know what I should do start in. For example telling me to get the basement waterproofed now. When I explain there is the window to see to first, then they try to draw up a schedule for me to get it all done. They know I am a writer and have my third Beyond mystery novel to promote, etc., etc., so…

News flash: I don’t have a husband or any other type of partner. I’m in this myself so that means I have to do and/or organize everything in my life.

Not that I wouldn’t want some help and sometimes friends gift me their help – but they are not ordering me around. My son is also a big help, not just with computers but with a few practical things that surprise me. But he doesn’t push it.

Tbe big one that really gets my goat is this: If I am having so many house problems why don’t I sell it and move into a condo?

Oh, For you-know-whose sake! Is that the answer for us seniors living in our own homes? To those  who think this, I think “Get a life – preferably yours, not mine.”

Throughout my life I  have lived in apartments, townhouses, two-storey houses and bungalows. I live in a bungalow now and it’s the only type of home that appeals to me. So, I have a short answer for these meddling busy-bodies who ask “Why don’t you sell the house and move into a condo?”

Because I would rather be dead than give up my garden.

That shuts them up.

Sharon on patio backyard garden

Of course I have more practical reasons. But I am tired of going into them.

So, I say, I am a senior and as long as my brain is still working, I think I can decide what to do and when to do it. And I reserve the right to change my mind or move the timing of it and when to ask for help.

What do you say?

How do you deal with unsolicited advice to well, run your life?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Decision Making, Family and Friends, Garden, Help and Support, Life Balance, Only child, Problem solving, Seniors

Only Child’s thoughts after the big hurricane May 4 in Southern Ontario

Calm few days after the storm

The day after the big wind storm – hurricane wind levels in Toronto – I was on my knees clearing out my garden. Not debris from the wind, but part of the annual clean-the-garden-in-the-spring ritual. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the man walk by. Although I didn’t know him I said, “good afternoon.”

I’m glad I did. Turns out he was a friend of Marie one of the seniors across the street. Marie had some damage to her roof from the winds and “she was freaking out he said. Do you know of anyone who could help fix it?”

I sprang into action. For the life of me I could not recall the name of the company who put up my roof in fall 2009 but I did know some neighbours who would know somebody. I directed him to my next door neighbour who works in construction and another one across the street who just retired from working in construction. Next door wasn’t in but Larry across the street was. After the man clarified the name of the fellow across the street and went to bang on his door, I went into high help mode.

I had to find the name of the company that did my roof. I knew it began with “E” and wasn’t a person’s first and/or last name. Dived into a few files. Nothing. Finally found a few old (like a couple of years) small brochures of home repairs/improvements companies and voila – and my roofers were listed in one brochure. It didn’t appear that they did roof repairs but if Marie ended up needing a new roof, I could recommend them. So I copied over their number on one of those memo pads real estate agents drop off – you know the ones with your name printed on the top – their play to get more business, I suppose. And with the brochure and the memo sheet and my house keys, I locked the doors and ran across the street to Marie’s.

The friend’s truck was still in the driveway, the front inside door was open and an array of shoes were discarded in the front hall. I knocked and knocked but no answer, so ran around to the backyard. No one. Came back to the front and knocked again because I could hear voices. No one came, so I returned to the driveway and could voices from a window, so called  out “It’s Sharon from across the street.” The  man who had talked to me said he would meet me at the front door. I met him there, and Marie, and the man’s wife and their two kids and the wife’s sister and her husband. They were the family of Marie’s late boyfriend.

Marie told  me that Larry had been there and said he would call his sons and see if they could come the next day (The did. I saw them there). Marie also complained about the roof she had – newer than mine – she’s had the roofer back three times to fix shingles. That’s not a very professional job done. So I wrote down the name and info of my roofer with the caveat – the owner, who do the estimate don’t go on the roof and because of that they missed the correct number of layers of old shingles on my roof – and I got charged more. But the actual workers did an excellent job, including their foreman who found the third layer when he inspected it just before they began doing the work and told me – he should be doing estimates.

“Make sure they go on the roof to check,” I told Marie.

I also gave her the name and phone number of the handyman who does plumbing, painting, electrical and other repairs and Marie and I exchanged phone numbers. The latter we should have done within a year after I moved into my house. I’ve been here nearly 20 years.

My wake-up call. Especially after reading online yesterday and watching the 11 p.m. news and finding that 500 homes in pockets of Toronto still didn’t have their power restored. Didn’t Toronto Hydro learn anything from the big ice storm in December 2013. True, there were downed trees and power lines from Friday’s hurricane but no ice. More likely not enough people doing the work. Again, didn’t Toronto Hydro learn anything from the ice storm of December 2013?

With this in mind and the below story in mind, where governments of all level in the US and Canada, forget about seniors during various hurricanes, floods, and other disasters, I decided it is really up to us who can do so to help. This story was published in Zoomer magazine last month and I’m linking to the online story. The photo (scroll down a bit) of the seniors sitting in water up to their waists in a nursing home because the authorities forgot about them breaks my heart. It took the son-in-law of the nursing home owner to Tweet about it to get any action. Then the National Guard came to the rescue.

Ageism is still around, unfortunately.

Here’s the link.

http://www.everythingzoomer.com/health/2018/04/19/seniors-natural-disaster-relief/

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, Help and Support, Helping Others, Hydro power outage, Only child, Power Outages, Seniors, Toronto Hydro

Only Child asks: Spring flowers bring heavy showers?

Snow flower in my outside garden Apr 9

Still too cold outside but at least the sun is shining  for now. I’ve been doing indoor gardening and took some shots of that as well as outside.

Yes, I saw the first flowers outside – a lone crocus and some snow flowers and a few clumps of irises and tulip plants trying their best. Took some photos yesterday and Sunday. I’m going to need this hope for good spring weather because of what’s coming in a few days. I’m worried and on basement watch and warning.

Because it is coming again – more rain  – too much rain – too many mm of it over five or so days. With wind mostly from the East there is a big risk of water getting in my basement and others’ basements too.  See The Weather Network for Toronto. This is my big nightmare mostly caused by that contractor Nigel Applewaite who messed  up a few years ago supposedly waterproofing my basement. He didn’t dig deep enough and then had the nerve to blame it on the drains. Well, I had the city check the drains twice and they showed fine. After a half-ass attempt by contractor Nigel Applewaite to find out where the cracks were he had missed or new cracks in the part not waterproofed – he bailed out, washed his hands of it. He isn’t a member of the BBB so I  make a point of blacklisting him through word of mouth and word of blog.

Meantime, here are a few more garden photos – inside and outside that I took. Enjoy.

Tulips and Irises trying

And inside the house

Poinsettia still in April

Flowering begonia on bedroom windowsill

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Heavy Rains, Indoor Gardening, Life demands, Only child